The Hong Kong stock exchange is welcoming its first pre-revenue vaccine maker on board.
Tianjin-based CanSino scored $160.5 million in an IPO by selling 57.2 million shares at $2.8, or HK$22, the top of the range. Around 40% of the capital came from local investors and the rest went to international community, both of which oversubscribed. The public debut donned a valuation of $611.6 million, according to BioCentury.
Known domestically for its approved Ebola vaccine, CanSino’s story traces back to a barbeque in Toronto a decade ago, where the four Chinese-Canadian founders — senior execs at Sanofi Pasteur, AstraZeneca and Wyeth at the time — decided they wanted to do more than just lamenting the glaring hole in China’s vaccine field.
Xuefeng Yu took up the chairman and CEO role, Tao Zhu became the CSO, while Helen Huihua Mao and Dongxu Qiu both helped as deputy general managers. Together, they built up a pipeline of 15 vaccine candidates across 12 disease areas, enticing top-notch investors Lilly Asia Ventures and Qiming Ventures as well as the state-owned Future Industry Development Fund.
LAV doubled down as one of the cornerstone investors of the IPO alongside OrbiMed and Tsinlen Zhuo Rui Investment (an affiliate of the Tianjin government), which together purchased about 16 million shares.
CanSino pledged to spend the vast majority of the raise to R&D and commercialization efforts around its clinical products. That ranges from two Phase III meningococcal programs and two Phase I DTP vaccines to an early-stage tuberculosis booster and a next-gen, protein-based pneumococcal vaccine.
The plan, they wrote in their application last July, is to have 100 staffers dedicated to selling the vaccines to local centers for disease control, initially in 30 economically-developed cities and gradually expanding to other locations.
Meanwhile, half a dozen preclinical assets — covering common suspects like shingles and Zika — will split 10% of the IPO money.
CanSino will begin trading on Thursday, joining the HKEX close to the first anniversary of the new listing rules that opened it up to pre-revenue biotechs. Immuno-oncology player CStone Pharma is the only other company so far in biotech class of 2019, having bagged $285 million in February.
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